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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

THE    DANGERS    OF    HISTORY

engendered much of the national animosity of modern
times. In a far wider sense than this the over-stressing
of the historical argument in modern European politics
has been unfortunate both for historical study and for
diplomacy. One must wonder sometimes whether it
would not have been better if men could have forgotten
the centuries long ago, and thrown off the terrible
burden of the past, so that they might face the future
without encumbrances. And above all, when history
has been accompanied by a tendency to regard the past
as an independent source of rights, or when it has been
accompanied by a tendency to worship the primitive
stages of one's national culture and the uniqueness of a
national mentality, it has made its contribution even to
that serious drift of the modern world in the direction
of irrationalism—the flight from the old ideal of a
universal human reasonableness.

It would seem that history possesses certain initial
attractions which will prevent it from being overlooked
in any consideration of a scheme of general education.
It is one of the subjects which purport to produce a
"well-informed mind", and it answers many of the
requirements of ordinary curiosity. It is capable of
easy discussion across a table without necessary resort to
any long-term intellectual system. It gives an extension
to the material which the mind can gather for the purpose
of manufacturing into experience. And it imparts the
kind of knowledge which throws light on the problems
of the present day, and which can be used to broaden
our consciousness of citizenship, whether in a nation or
in the world.

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